Thursday, 24 December 2009

Travel chaos blog #2: I've got a new daddy

Too much of my Christmas Eve was spent stuck in Swindon coach station, another depressingly non-descript transport hub full of frustrated festive travellers.

This time it was a coach gearbox to blame - naturally, I took the inconvenience on the chin and tried to get some shut-eye during the delay. Alas, some of my fellow passengers were far more vocal, with their immediate demand being a National Express-paid-for taxi to Cirencester.

Unfortunately for the quiet minority, a ready-made replacement for Calais pig-man was in the making. He arrived in the form of a 48-year-old self-titled all-action "make sure you grab life by the balls" project sales manager. Sadly, I didn't catch his name.

He assumed the role of lead passenger, congratulating the driver on his sensible approach and assuming a paternal role that the 32-year-old average-aged passenger so desperately required at 2:30 in the morning.

If his calming influence and confident demeanour hadn't materialised, I would have probably melted into a urea-tinged puddle after a bout of panic-induced vibration in my plush leather seat avec drinks holder and power point.

Despite saving my life, I still despise this man. He was an egotistical show off, full of self-congratulation, arrogance and tales of survival so blatantly exaggerated that he might have well told me he was Mahmoud Ahmedjinidad on his way to Marks & Spencer to buy a green t-shirt.

His most cringe-worthy act was to befriend two 30-year-olds with self-confessed sleep problems. They were project sales manager's perfect victims - barely able to muster a reply and unable to sleep. He could show off all he liked, safe in the knowledge that he would be given a mandate to continue his hyperbolic ramblings by the polite mumbling replies of his self-conscious newly-adopted adult children.

Never has the journey from Swindon to Cheltenham seemed so long - I heard project sales manager's anecdotes from his time as a kayak instructor in Canada, disabled kids' helper in Australia, marketing lecturer at Brighton University, flower picker in The Netherlands, competition-entering mountain biker in Europe and bare-chested survival specialist in the Far East.

Merry Christmas. Unless you're pig-man, project sales manager, Enis, Enis's wife or the owners of Cafe Churchill in Westminster - all of whom I hope receive fish hooks and laxatives disguised as festive treats in their stocking tomorrow morning.

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